Alimkhanuly TKOs Gualtieri to Snatch Another Piece of the Middleweight Title


By Arne K. Lang

Top Rank was at the newly opened Fort Bend Epicenter in the Houston suburb of Rosenberg. Texas, tonight, with a card that aired on ESPN and ESPN+. The main go was a unification fight in the middleweight division between WBO belt-holder Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly and IBF champion, Vincenzo Gualtieri,

Alimkhanuly, a 2016 Rio Olympian for Kazakhstan, was making his second title defense in his first fight with new trainer Brian Viloria who took over from Buddy McGirt. A solid favorite, he didn't lose a round before ending the contest in the sixth. Gualtieri, a German making his U.S. debut, was slumping against the ropes and seemingly on his way to going down when referee David Fields intervened. The official time was 1:25 of round six.

Alimkhanuly improved to 15-0 (10 KOs). Gualtieri, who fought only in spurts and was credited with landing only 22 punches, was undefeated (21-0-1) coming in and was able to maintain his distinction of having never been knocked down. His six fights leading into tonight including his title-winning performance against previously undefeated Esquiva Falcao had all lasted the full 12 rounds.

In his post-fight interview, Alimkhanuly said he aimed to fully unify the title before moving up in weight. The other belt-holders at 160 are Jermall Charlo who is undefeated but hasn't fought since June of 2021 and 40-something Erislandy Lara.

Semi wind-up

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis, a stablemate of Terence Crawford, advanced to 10-0 (6) with majority decision over Philadelphia’ Nahir Albright (16-3) in a 10-round lightweight contest. Albright, who fought nine weeks ago, upsetting former U.S. Olympian Karlos Baldera, came on strong late to make things interesting, if only on the scorecards. The judges had it 97-93, 96-94, and 95-95.

Other Bouts of Note

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr, a heavyweight with a fan-friendly style, has dismissed all seven of his opponents at the pro level within the first three rounds. His latest victim, San Antonio’s Tyrell Herndon, was dismissed at the 1:22 mark of round two. Torrez put him on the deck with a chopping right hand and the fight was stopped moments later when Herndon turned his back on the referee. Herndon, 36, had won nine straight heading in, but against suspect opposition. In his last start, he went to Colombia and won something called the Universal Boxing Organization world heavyweight title.

In a messy, 8-round affair, Italy’s Guido Vianello, a former Olympian, rebounded from his first pro defeat with a unanimous decision over paunchy, 35-year-old Jacksonville journeyman Curtis Harper. The judges had it 80-72 and 79-73 twice.

In his previous outing, Vianello (11-1-1 (9 KOs) lost a fight that he was winning against the noted spoiler Jonnie Rice when he was pulled out by the ring doctor because of a bad cut. Harper, who declined to 14-11, is best known for walking out of the ring before the opening bell vs Efe Ajagba on a 2018 card in Minneapolis.

Houston’s Giovanni Marquez, a 22-year-old welterweight with a big upside, advanced to 7-0 (5 KOs) with second-round stoppage of Cincinnati’s Donte Strayhorn (12-5-1). Managed by David McWater, Giovanni is the son of Showtime Boxing color commentator Raul Marquez, the former U.S. Olympian and IBF 154-pound title-holder. Marquez had Strayhorn on the canvas twice before the match was halted at the 2:47 mark of round two.

In an 8-round featherweight contest, former U.S. silver medalist Duke Ragan, returning to the ring after a one-year absence during which he was sidelined by an elbow injury, stayed unbeaten with a reasonable but unpopular decision over SoCal’s Jose Perez. The judges were split with two favoring Ragan by 77-75 scores and the other voting for Perez by the same margin.

Perez (11-2-2) landed the best punch of the fight, a short left uppercut that knocked Ragan (9-0, 1 KO) on the seat of his pants in round five.

Jakhongir Zokirov, a 20-year-old six-foot-seven southpaw from Uzbekistan, was victorious in his pro debut, stopping Monterrey, Mexico’s Guillermo Del Rio in the fourth round. Zokirov had no snap on his punches but the stumpy Del Rio (4-5-1) was easy work.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images
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